Kevin Pietersen: Batsman turns to IPL auction while England set to announce Pietersen-less squad for West Indies tour and World T20
Pietersen's enforced international retirement means that he is free to focus on the IPL auction where his value will start at £194,000
Thursday 06 February 2014
Kevin Pietersen and England have urgent matters to address as they press on with their respective separate lives.
The ending of Pietersen's England and Wales Cricket Board central contract will be an imminent formality, once legal details have been agreed, following his enforced international retirement.
He will therefore be open at next week's Indian Premier League auction to highly lucrative offers, starting at a base price of £194,000 but estimated to reach much higher for a full campaign - something he has apparently long craved but several times been denied by circumstance.
England, meanwhile, must set their stall out in the brave new world managing director Paul Downton, Alastair Cook and others have engineered - by announcing their squad on Thursday lunchtime, without Pietersen or indeed the rested captain, for a limited-overs tour of West Indies and then World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
It means there will be precious little time to draw breath for the key protagonists, after a fraught 24 hours since the ECB announced Pietersen was no longer part of its plans.
There was an uneasy tone to events on Wednesday as, one by one, expert commentators and affected parties had their say on an event long feared yet somehow surreal once the deed was finally done.
Pietersen's wife sprung to his defence on Twitter; the man himself spoke of his own sadness; a string of high-profile former Test captains made their feelings clear, as did Australian great Shane Warne - and finally England wicketkeeper Matt Prior angrily denied accusations made against him by celebrity cricket follower Piers Morgan.
The latter, a noted Twitter agitator of England management since they reached the end of the road with his friend Pietersen, decided to rattle Prior's cage by alleging "hypocrisy" over remarks he claims were made in team meetings.
The England vice-captain responded at length via the same medium: "I'm not the kind of person to divulge what is said in team meetings - but all I will say is that Flower, Cook and the rest of my team mates know exactly what I said & the way in which it was meant!
"There is no story here, just an attempt to knock someone who has only ever had the team's best interests at heart and tried my best on and off the field to help the England cricket team.
"I can hold my head up high in that knowledge!"
Jessica Taylor, aka Mrs Pietersen, was equally dismissive of Sky Sports pundit Dominic Cork's suggestion of a "dust-up" between her husband and his former captain Cook in Sydney while England were descending to their fifth and final trouncing.
Michael Vaughan took a similarly disparaging view of that version of events; England batting coach Graham Gooch felt unable to provide any telling first-hand testimony from his time in the dressing-room this winter - and unsurprisingly Warne concluded, on Twitter, that Pietersen's axing at the age of 33 is a "disgrace" and the ECB "in a shambles".
It is against that backdrop of sound and fury that England must keep their eye on the ball to pick a competitive 15-man squad to challenge for a global trophy, and Pietersen must find his IPL franchise - and pick and choose which media opportunities he fancies between domestic Twenty20 assignments.
Possible England squad (v West Indies, and for ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh): SCJ Broad (capt), AD Hales, LJ Wright, EJG Morgan, JC Buttler (wkt), RS Bopara, BA Stokes, CJ Jordan, TT Bresnan, JC Tredwell, DR Briggs, GS Ballance, SR Patel, MJ Lumb, JW Dernbach.
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